The U.S. on Monday reported more than half a million new COVID-19 cases – vastly worse than any other single-day report of the entire pandemic.
Monday’s tally of more than 500,000 new cases beat the nation’s previous record of more than 303,000, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The apparent spike likely represents some cases backlogged over the Christmas holiday, but it also reflects part of the surge of the highly contagious omicron strain.
The blistering numbers come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday cut the amount of time it recommends people should isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 and quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tests positive.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the change was an effort to “make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”
The recent surge in cases has spurred concerns about staffing shortages at hospitals, airlines and businesses across the country. Research has suggested omicron, while more infectious, causes milder illness.
“Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact, many are going to be asymptomatic,” Walensky said.
Also in the news:
► Apple is temporarily not allowing customers to shop inside its 16 retail stores in New York City as COVID-19 cases surge. Instead, customers can pick up orders from online. Within the past week, the tech company temporarily shut down stores in Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach, Florida; two malls in Atlanta; Houston; and one each in Ohio, New Hampshire and Montreal.
► The CDC is investigating Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas ship as it continues to sail with more than 50 cases of COVID-19 onboard.
► About two dozen sailors on a U.S. Navy warship — roughly 25% of the crew — have tested positive for COVID-19, keeping the ship sidelined in port at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba Monday, according to U.S. defense officials.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 52.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 818,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 281.4 million cases and 5.4 million deaths. More than 205 million Americans – 61.8% – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: A man died after a 15-day wait for a medical center bed. His family blames the COVID-19 surge.
The Texas state health department has run out of a key treatment to fight the omicron COVID-19 variant, which now makes up 90% of the virus cases in the state.
On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced that its regional infusion centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands have run out of the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab.
That antibody has been shown to be effective against the omicron variant. Other monoclonal antibodies have not been shown to be effective against omicron.
The state does not expect to receive another shipment of sotrovimab from the federal government until January.
— Nicole Villalpando and Roberto Villalpando, Austin American-Statesman
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday cut the amount of time it recommends people should isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 and quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tests positive.
The new recommendations are for:
Isolation: For those who are infected with COVID-19, isolation starts the day a person tests positive. The CDC now recommends isolating for five days and going back to normal activities if a person is not showing any symptoms after that period. Previously, the isolation period was 10 days.
Quarantine: For those who come in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. The CDC is now recommending those who are vaccinated and received a booster shot can skip quarantining if they wear a face mask for at least 10 days. If a person is vaccinated and has not gotten a booster, or if they are partly vaccinated or not vaccinated at all, the CDC recommends a five-day quarantine, then wearing a mask in public for an additional five days.
Previously, the CDC recommended unvaccinated individuals should quarantine for 10 days and those who were vaccinated could skip a quarantine.
Testing positive for COVID-19 starts a confusing, disruptive and at times frightening process – one that millions of Americans will likely go through in the coming week.
First, you need to isolate. That’s a more intense version of quarantining – it means cutting off contact with other people as much as possible so you reduce the chance of infecting them. This also means forgoing travel, not going to work and even limiting contact with people in your own household who aren’t infected.
The CDC says isolating is a necessary step whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, and whether you have symptoms or feel fine.
Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should monitor their symptoms. And people who are unvaccinated or at high risk for severe disease should be extra-vigilant for symptoms that might require emergency care. Call your doctor for early treatment options.
How long should you isolate? How long will I be contagious? What if you are in close contact with someone who tested positive? Here’s what you should know about omicron and COVID this holiday season.
Contributing: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY